The US president's attempts to use the D-Day anniversary to win support for his war went badly wrong as protesters took to the streets of Rome and Paris
HE BUTCHERED thousands in Afghanistan and Iraq. But last weekend George W Bush came to 'honour' the 'glorious dead' from the Second World War, and to try to win backing for the invasion and occupation of Iraq.
Tens of thousands of protesters in Italy and France saw through his ploy. They took to the streets against his war in Iraq and plans for the world.
Brune Seban was in Rome for the huge protests that rocked the city. She told Socialist Worker, 'Around 200,000 people protested against Bush in Rome. People were there against the war and Bush's plans. Over 80 percent of the Italian public opposed the war. But Silvio Berlusconi's government has sent troops to help the occupation of Iraq. People are demanding they return home. The government and the newspapers launched a campaign against the demonstration to terrify people and make sure they didn't come. Berlusconi even went on live TV to urge people not to attend. They tried to make people think it would be like another Genoa in 2001, the last time Bush came. Police killed Carlo Giuliani then. They wanted people to believe it would happen again. The government declared a level two security alert-the same as for a natural disaster. Thousands of police took over the streets.
'It didn't work. Tens of thousands of young people took to the streets, just like they did in Genoa. In the evening people toppled a statue of Bush, just like you did in London last November. People were also protesting against our right wing government. There is a huge mood against the government. People are going to go and vote against Berlusconi and war in Italy's European election set to take place next Sunday. The deputy prime minister, Fini, who once described the fascist dictator Mussolini as the 'greatest statesman of the 20th century', said last week, 'We are the government for two more years. Our mandate doesn't finish on 13 June. We will continue.' They expect they are going to lose the election.
'The centre left said we shouldn't protest because Bush wasn't coming to Italy to discuss the Iraq war, but to celebrate the liberation of Italy in 1944. But many people said that it was the Italian resistance movement that liberated Italy from fascism. People carried slogans saying 'Rome: Closed for Bush'. This is a reference to Rome: Open City, the famous film about the liberation. The big thing in Italy is people want the government to fall, to bring the troops back. To stop the war we have to defeat this government. People believe Berlusconi is a valet for Bush. Our movement will not stop in its fight against Bush, Berlusconi and war.'
Protesters also took to the streets of Paris against Bush's visit to France. Nick Barrett in Paris says, 'People chanted that Bush, Sharon and Blair were a team of murderers and assassins as people protested in Paris. Around 15,000 people, including a lot of high school and university students, marched through France's capital city. People demanded troops out of Iraq. It was not pro-UN. Earlier in the day there had been a 40,000-strong protest against the right wing government's measures for attacking social security. A lot of people from this demonstration came straight to the anti-Bush protest afterwards. In most towns and cities in France there were protests about social security in the early afternoon and Bush in the late afternoon. In the media there have been a lot of programmes and articles about D-Day. But even they were critical about the way that Bush was using it to try to gain support for his plans in Iraq.'